10 Horizontal Push Exercises That Test Your Limits
Growing your upper body is important for many reasons besides looking your best. A strong chest can improve your posture, protect yourself from injury, and boost your confidence.
And perhaps some of the best push exercises happen when your body is horizontal to the floor when working against the force of gravity. Let’s take a look at some of the best horizontal push exercises to take your new workout to the next level.
1. Bench Press
The dumbbell bench press or barbell bench press is among the few basic movement patterns that bodybuilders and trainers swear by. This compound movement utilizes almost every push muscle of your upper body, from your pectoralis (chest) to your triceps.
One of the best things about this movement is that it is easy to progress or modify the movement as you need to reach your goals. Use a close grip to emphasize the triceps, keep your legs lifted to work the core, or do one arm at a time to isolate muscle imbalances with unilateral movement.
But many people don’t do bench presses properly, which puts more emphasis on the shoulders rather than the chest. There are a few things to remember before your next PR.
For one, make sure your elbows are at a 45-degree angle in association with your chest. Many people keep their elbows out at 90 degrees, which targets the shoulders rather than your pecs. Also, keep your feet planted firmly on the floor to use leg drive throughout the kinetic chain. This lets you lift heavier weights.
Finally, make sure the weight moves in a slight curve over your head before returning to the starting position. This emphasizes the chest more than lifting the weight straight up to the ceiling.
A push-up is another classic movement that is either loved or hated by members of the fitness community. But it is one of the most simplistic bodyweight push exercises you can do from anywhere.
When doing a push-up, you want to remember the same things as a chest press in order to activate those muscles most effectively. This means making sure your elbows are at a 45-degree angle in relation to the side of the body and squeezing your chest at the top of the move.
However, if you tuck your elbows in, you’ll effectively do a tricep pushup, which targets the triceps more. You can also do a staggered push-up with one hand elevated on a weight or a medicine ball. Throw in a jump to make it a cardio burpee, or do the movement on your knees if you’re not strong enough to sustain a few typical push-ups.
You can also add weights to your back to progress this movement or do them up against a bench to address the upper chest instead.
3. Incline Bench Press
Speaking of the upper chest, an incline chest press is one of the most effective movements for building up the top portion of your chest as well as your front delt or shoulder. With an incline press, you’ll do the same thing as a regular chest press, except you want the bench to be at an angle.
Many people do incline presses with the bench at a 45-degree angle. However, this emphasizes the shoulders much more than the chest. If you want to feel it in the chest primarily, make sure the bench is just at a 15 or 30-degree angle instead.
Having strong triceps can actually make you better at some of the functional, multi-muscle movements like chest presses and push-ups. And skullcrushers are a horizontal push exercise that targets the triceps better than a lot of other exercises because you’re constantly working against the force of gravity.
With skullcrushers, you want to make sure your elbows are bent slightly past your forehead to get the greatest stretch in the triceps possible. You also want to make sure you take this movement nice and slow to tear down those muscle fibers. Time under tension helps you reach muscle gains faster.
5. Tricep Kickbacks
Tricep kickbacks are another fantastic exercise to target the triceps. These work the triceps in the shortened position, though a major drawback is that when you use dumbbells, you only get activation at the top portion of the movement.
A way to fix this is by ensuring tension during the entire range of motion, and an easy way to do this is by using a cable machine instead. Cables ensure that you’re constantly getting resistance throughout the entire movement.
But even then, your muscles exert different amounts of force at different angles of a given range of motion. This means that your triceps are more active at certain portions of a kickback than others.
This is called the strength curve, and it limits you during traditional strength training because you’re forced to choose one level of resistance for the entire motion. This is where Speede can completely change the game.
The Speede Challenger has an isokinetic mode where the velocity of motion stays the same throughout the entire movement, but the resistance alters. This means that no matter where you are in a range of motion, your muscles are being worked to their maximum output.
This engages fast twitch muscle fibers, which is the key to strength gains. Speede is designed with this phenomenon in mind, so your body can face the perfect resistance at every point of your rep.
The best way for you to see the difference is to feel it for yourself. Check Speede out today and start getting closer to your fitness goals than ever before.
6. Dumbbell Chest Fly
A chest fly activates the muscles of the chest or the shoulder and can activate muscle fibers in a different way compared to a chest press. This is because they can allow you to get a really good stretch in the chest muscle, as well as a great muscle contraction at the top of the movement as you bring the weights together.
With a chest fly, you’ll hold two dumbbells out to your side with a soft bend in the elbow, sort of like how an eagle spreads its wings. From there, you’ll bring the weights out as far as possible with palms at the lower chest level. Then, you’ll slowly bring the dumbbells towards each other, like you’re hugging a tree.
The key here is to squeeze at the top of the movement, but like kickbacks, you only activate the chest at the bottom portion of the movement. To fix this, you can use cables on a machine like the Speede Challenger. This way, your chest is constantly under tension for maximum strength gains.
7. Tricep Dips
Tricep dips are a strange in-between where you’re sort of horizontal and you’re also sort of vertical. But considering that the goal is to have your legs as straight out in front of you as possible, we’ll consider them a horizontal movement.
You can do tricep dips up against a bench, box, or even a table. Just make sure that your butt and back are right up against the box to put the maximum emphasis on the triceps without recruiting the shoulder muscles.
To make this move more challenging, bring your feet further out in front of you. To make it less challenging, just bring your feet in a little bit closer to your butt.
8. Plank Walks
Horizontal push movements where you are facing the floor are also great at recruiting the muscles of the core to keep your spine from sulking inward. Plank walks are one of the best core exercises for stability, but they’ll also require a lot of work from your triceps and shoulders.
Starting from a high plank, you’ll bring one arm down into a low plank and then the other. From there, press one arm at a time back up into that high plank position.
The key to making this challenging is to keep your hips from swaying by tightening the core. Imagine you have a glass of water on your hips that you don’t want to spill – tighten the core and ensure that the hips stay stable without moving from side to side.
You can progress this exercise and make it more challenging by adding weight to your back. This forces you to keep the core tight while adding extra resistance for the shoulders and triceps.
9. Crush Press
Not only does this exercise have a cool name, but it’s also a great move to feel the tension in your chest. With a crush press, you’ll use one dumbbell at a lower weight than you’d use for a typical chest press.
From here, you press the dumbbell up to the sky, but as you do it, you want to act like you’re crushing it like a tin can. This places more emphasis on the chest as you are forced to squeeze the muscle throughout the entire range of motion.
Despite the word “pull” in its name, this move works the rotator cuff and delts, which means you can incorporate it into your next push routine to build that upper body. Pullovers work the shoulders while also emphasizing the core.
You can do pullovers with a dumbbell, medicine ball, or any other type of stationary weight like a plate. Lay flat on the floor and keep your arms straight as you pull the weight over your head, then back over your chest. Keep your belly button tucked into your spine so that your back stays flat against the floor the entire time.
You can progress this move by lifting your feet off the floor to place more emphasis on the abs.
Push exercises, as the name implies, work the muscles that you push things with. So during your next push day, these 10 horizontal push movements will build the chest, shoulders, and triceps to the extreme.
Classics like push-ups and bench presses are necessary, but if you want some variety, consider adding in something like a crush press, chest fly, or some skullcrushers. Either way, the exercises you choose don’t matter nearly as much as the equipment you use to complete them.
Speede fills in the gaps that traditional strength training leaves wide open, allowing you to get more muscle gains in less time. By adapting to your body’s muscle output, Speede adjusts the resistance dynamically to make sure you’re always maxing out at every single rep.
The best way to see what we mean is to feel it for yourself. So check Speede out today to see how the Speede Challenger can fit into your home gym, team room or fitness facility.